Today@Sam Article

Grant Award To Support Undergrad Research For Students

April 9, 2021
SHSU Media Contact: Hannah Haney

BiologyGuysFaculty at Sam Houston State University were recently awarded a prestigious three-year, $402,562 continuing grant from the National Science Foundation in support of undergraduate research experiences in Genome Science and Computational Biology.

The Research Experiences for Undergraduates Site in Genome Science and Computational Biology (REU-GSCB) program will provide funding and immersive, faculty-lead support to 10 students each summer as they continue their studies. Underrepresented students are the focus of this initiative, with the goal of advancing their career development towards higher education.

“We are very happy that the NSF-REU Site grant was awarded to Sam Houston State because it affirms the strength of our expertise in the field of Genomics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology,” said Madhusudan Choudhary, director of the SHSU Center for Enhancing Undergraduate Research Experiences and Creative Activities (EURECA).

At the helm of this interdisciplinary research program, are long-time SHSU collaborators, Choudhary, of the Department of Biological Sciences and Hyuk Cho of the Department of Computer Science. Their partnership began 10 years ago, when they predicted that their fields would expand in popularity due to advancing technology. For this reason, they set out to get ahead of this trend by incorporating their scholarly findings into their own classroom lectures.

“Many undergraduates favor computer science for high-paying jobs in tech companies. However, interdisciplinary experiences with biological sciences and computing will open up a new dimension of research training and education,” Choudhary said. “One example is genome sequencing technology. It is rapidly growing and presents a wide range of genome-databases that can be analyzed through big data analytics to predict the pattern of genetic information and molecular processes.”

In order to unite both expertise, each project will be tackled by a biologist and a computer scientist. The selected candidates will fully immerse themselves in the 10-week program, beginning this summer, June 1 through Aug. 10. Students will conduct research under the supervision of two faculty mentors on topics ranging from analyses of genomes, transcriptomes, proteome, and metabolome, microbiome, gene networks, enzyme structure and function, and phylogenetic analysis.

In addition to their mentorship opportunities, they will attend weekly computing workshops, lectures, and group discussions, attend seminars on research and graduate school preparation, and will take two field trips to promote community engagement. Finally, at the end of the summer, students will present their research findings in state/regional or national scientific conferences.

In accordance with institutional and CDC guidelines, face-to-face and virtual mentoring options are available. All REU participants will be connected synchronously and asynchronously through online learning systems as a venue for further communication and interaction through group discussion, data sharing, and virtual conferencing.

The NSF will award a total amount of $402,562 to be spread out over three years, contingent upon the scientific progress of the project. Every year revised or new research projects will be solicited, and the project description will be posted on the REU website prior to the recruitment process. To learn about the first year’s prospective mentors and their potential research projects, please visit here.

For further information or questions, please contact Madhu Choudhary or Hyuk Cho.


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